Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why doesn't Stargate do better as a comic?

A little while back I made a comment in one of the blogs about how I think television is a better medium for comic books than the silver screen. Naturally, I was right.

So recently, I have taken a renewed interest in Stargate SG-1, the television series that was born from the feature film Stargate. Over the years I had always had a mild interest in it, but never had the time or inclination to sit down and watch it religiously. Then I was fortunate enough to come into possession of the entire series, so I decided that I would begin to watch it from the beginning. I'm wrapping up Season 6 (of 10) now.

What does any of this have to do with comic books?

Everything. While I was watching a particular episode last night, I actually caught myself thinking that their well developed mythology would translate exceptionally well to the comic book format. So when the episode ended I came down to my computer and fired it up (I lie, it's always running.) A quick Wiki search lead me here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stargate_comics. I was disappointed to find out that there were only 18 comics, including convention specials, listed.

Which lead me to wonder why Stargate doesn't do better as a comic.

When I think about the series that I gravitate to, and that I typically recommend to others, I find many elements that I think already exist within  the Stargate Universe.

Mythology - More than once I have openly admired the brilliance of a writer's unique spin or interpretation of the DC Universe or the Marvel Universe. Elseworld books, Kingdom Come, Earth X & 1602 all fit that bill. The reason I'm so drawn to the major comic universes is that they have a deep seated mythology upon which every story's foundation is based. Stargate has achieved that, and they have done so by incorporating some truly creative and impressive explanations for the myriad of pantheons that exist across human cultures. Their inclusion of the lost continent of Atlantis is terrific, and the idea of a progenitor species called The Ancients is terrific.

Good versus Evil - Mankind, still in its infancy, stands in defiance of a race that has the technological knowledge to wipe them from the Earth. They draw clear lines in the series regarding good and evil, and then in a show of writing daring and skill, the writers muddy those lines at every turn. They introduce us to an evil race, and as soon as we're comfortable with them as the universal bad guys, they bring in the offshoot of the species as good guys. Mankind's own inherent struggle with virtue and sin is constantly on display in the series. On more than one occasion we are faced with a decision to consider; is the greater good served by an act of evil?

Characterization - The cast is a robust collection of characters, spanning numerous worlds. Many of them are easily dismissed as archetypes for any science fiction show, and I have seen more than one critic refer to their personas in derogatory terms. Yet the characters grow throughout the show, and more importantly, I think they grow on you. The writers show a progressive development not just of the characters, but of their working relationships.

Action  - All good comics have some form of action. Stargate has it in spades, without getting lost in it. In comic terms 'they know when to use a splash page.'

Serialized Continuity - One of my favorite aspects of a comic book is that I can pick it up and (aside from short limited series) after an issue be aware of the basic state of the book, its main character and the current driving plot. I don't have to have read the last one hundred issues to appreciate the individual story of that book......but it helps. Stargate likewise feels that way to me. There is a bigger continuity, that when referenced makes the growing story more interesting, but that can be ignored for the simple appreciation of the current episode.

I wonder if the series didn't do well because science fiction books, in general, haven't been nearly as successful as their heroic genre counterparts? And does that make any sense, since comic conventions are overrun with science fiction aficionados?

Why didn't this series make a more successful transition?

I just don't get it.

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